This past weekend I had the great fortune to join the devotees in distributing books and prasadam at the Whole Earth Festival. Held every year at the UC Davis campus since 1969, the Whole Earth Festival (WEF) was created to promote values of peace, cooperation, care for the Earth and reverence for Spirit, values which are familiar to vaishnavas. One woman I talked with, Emmy, told me she was part of the original group of students who founded the festival, and she expressed over and over her sincere gratitude for our presence there. Emmy said we were representing the true spirit of the event, what it was ‘all about’, trying to offer people a substantial path to real inner peace.
We are told that the only dharma for this day and age is to chant the Holy Name. But what does it really mean to glorify the Lord’s Name? Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur, in his composition Ajna-tahal, says:
jive daya, krsna nama – sarva dharma sara
“To show mercy to all living beings by distributing the holy name – this is all the dharma there is.”
Not only to chant the Name by ourselves, but to share the glories of the Name far and wide. Of course, in order to properly glorify the Name, we must remember Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s instructions to remain humbler than a blade of grass, to be more tolerant than a tree, and to always give honor and respect without expectation. With this mood, the transcendental sound can descend, and we become fit as agents of the Holy Name. In distributing the Name, it is important to remember that we are servants, and that the Holy Name is not our exclusive property, but the rightful inheritance of every soul. Merely to proselytize, to have some agenda to make converts, is not the proper mood in which to share the Lord’s Name. Gentleness, meekness, and a serving attitude are required to actually represent Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The exchange between souls sharing in the glories of the Holy Name and the path of Bhakti is so sweet and relishable. It’s a heart-to-heart transaction, where we share with one another our innermost heart’s feelings and realizations, and by such a process we work for our mutual enlightenment. Mahaprabhu’s lila is certainly still going on, through the current of our acharyya-varga. We can join in that audarya-lila, the pastimes of magnanimity and distribution, and we see that it is actually very deep, intimate and sweet.
I am indebted to all the sincere souls with whom we were able to share Mahaprabhu’s mission. We were able to open our hearts to so many and share what is most sacred and dear to us. On one level, we preach in order to distribute sukriti and engage others in some type of service. On another level, however, Krishna is showing His mercy upon us by sending someone with whom we can share the path of devotional service. So, we can say that Krishna, as Paramatma, is helping us to fulfill our service by sending souls to preach to and partake in devotional practice. So to those sincere seekers who helped us to fulfill our Gurudeva’s and Mahaprabhu’s mission, I offer my deepest gratitude and humble obeisances.
Krishna tells Arjuna:
na cha tasman manusyesu, kaschin me priya-krttamah
bhavita na cha me tasmad, anyah priyataro bhuvi
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.69)
“In the entire human society there is no one who pleases Me by his actions more than he who preaches My glories, nor will there ever be anyone in the world dearer to Me than he.”
I would like to extend thanks and appreciation to all the devotees who participated and gave their support: Srila B.P. Janardan Maharaj, Bimala Didi, Divya Shakti Didi, Bilwa Mangal Prabhu, Sushila Didi, and especially to Braja Mohini Didi, who had the inspiration and made all the arrangements to do the event.
Photos by Brajamohini Didi and captions by Sushila Didi:
UC Davis Whole Earth Festival Sankirtan Program ki jaya!